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I was heartbroken by how badly wrong my fantasy had gone, so much so that a few weeks passed before I could bring myself to return. But I had to, because I needed to find out if I'd just shown up on some colossally bad day, and this crew was really capable of turning out the burritos of my dreams — or at least something edible. But no such luck. The curry chicken burrito was just as disappointing, and the seafood burrito just as trash-worthy. And while a burrito filled with simple pork and rice and black beans and the house Colorado salsa was a marked improvement over the barbecue burrito, it was nothing I couldn't get in a hundred other places in town, and done better in a good number of them.

While this second meal did nothing whatsoever to improve my opinion of Beaucoup Burrito, it did help me determine where the place had gone wrong.

The concept is not the problem. I still like the idea of international burritos, of taking the tortilla places you don't traditionally find it. As designed by Thomas, the menu looks good — and the first thing I wanted to do after trying that terrible chicken curry burrito was go to a good Thai or Indian restaurant, order some chicken curry and some rice and wrap it up myself as a burrito.

Don't hurry to Beaucoup Burrito.
Don't hurry to Beaucoup Burrito.

The execution of that concept is a major problem, however. The recipes are either flawed, or the cooks simply incapable of following them correctly. But the biggest sinner is whoever's responsible for ordering the cheapest, lowest-quality and most tawdry ingredients they can get their penny-pinching hands on. A seafood burrito doesn't have to be bad. In fact, I've had excellent ones — packed with fat shrimp fresh off the grill, soft rice, beans and just a squeeze of lime as dressing. But I have no hopes of ever having an edible seafood burrito at Beaucoup Burrito: There's simply no way to assemble a good one (or even a passable one) out of bad stock.

That's the prime directive of cooking right there, the first and most basic rule for any cook or owner: Good food starts with good ingredients, followed by good ideas, finished by good execution. And greatness follows only in the laborious improvement of all three. The people behind Three Sisters and Beaucoup Burrito should know that. In the end, fantasies are not flavor. So the next time someone behind the counter tries telling me that maybe I ought to consider making different plans for lunch, I'll pay attention.

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